Text Size

REPORTER PACKAGE SCRIPT 1 1:00

The Sun... The source of life on Earth. But the Sun's output changes…even on a daily basis… leaving questions about its short and long-term influence on Earth.

Enter NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE.

... If you don't measure the Sun, ... and you carry on making all the other measurements, there's always the question of what you're seeing, is it really true? Is it really what's happening with climate or could it be the Sun that is also playing a role? (GARY ROTTMAN, SORCE PROJECT INVESTIGATOR)

Among its main goals SORCE will monitor the Sun's radiative output and measure how that output changes. From a vantage point just 400 miles above the surface, the satellite will also gauge Earth's absorption and reflection of the various wavelengths of light entering our atmosphere.

SORCE, for the first time will tell us how much of the energy varying in the solar cycle is in the ultraviolet versus the visible, versus the near infrared. Visible goes into the ocean and near infrared goes into the atmosphere and that relative amount is what controls convection, cloud formation, and so on. (BOB CAHALAN, SORCE PROJECT SCIENTIST)

SORCE will be controlled from the University of Colorado where grad students and scientists will be waiting anxiously for data to shed light on the overarching questions - How does the Sun's energy vary and how does that variation impact Earth?


SORCE REPORTER PACKAGE SCRIPT 2 2:30

The Sun... The source of life on Earth. But the Sun's output changes…even on a daily basis… leaving questions about its short and long-term influence on Earth.

Enter NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE.

... If you don't measure the Sun, ... and you carry on making all the other measurements, there's always the question of what you're seeing, is it really true? Is it really what's happening with climate or could it be the Sun that is also playing a role? (GARY ROTTMAN, SORCE PROJECT INVESTIGATOR)

Among its main goals SORCE will monitor the Sun's radiative output and measure how that output changes. From a vantage point just 400 miles above the surface, the satellite will also gauge Earth's absorption and reflection of the various wavelengths of light entering our atmosphere.

SORCE, for the first time will tell us how much of the energy varying in the solar cycle is in the ultraviolet versus the visible, versus the near infrared. Visible goes into the ocean and near infrared goes into the atmosphere and that relative amount is what controls convection, cloud formation, and so on. (BOB CAHALAN, SORCE PROJECT SCIENTIST)

Of the solar energy reaching the top of the Earth's atmosphere, roughly 30 percent is reflected back into space. About 20 percent gets absorbed by our atmosphere - leaving nearly half of the energy to be absorbed by the land and oceans. A delicate balance exists between energy absorption and reflection. This radiation balance allows Earth to lose heat at roughly the same rate it gains from the Sun.

And the Sun is changing. Every eleven years, the Sun reaches a maximum state of activity marked by as many as 200 sunspots per month and a minimum of a few dozen. While significant for the study of space weather, it's the sunspot's warmer counterpart-- white regions called faculae--that produce the bulk of the solar energy that washes across the Earth.

SORCE is a ... next generation of monitoring solar irradiance... but SORCE is really going to make a giant step forward - we're looking at improvements at least in a factor of ten in the accuracy of both total irradiance and spectral irradiance... (BILL OCHS, SORCE PROJECT MANAGER)

Tracking the total solar output is a crucial job. For the next five years, SORCE will add to a legacy of measurements begun in 1978 with the NIMBUS satellite. Those measurements continued with the UARS and SOHO platforms-- both still in orbit.

SORCE will be controlled from the University of Colorado where grad students and scientists will be waiting anxiously for data to shed light on the overarching questions - How does the Sun's energy vary and how does that variation impact Earth?

Close Window